Missing My Mother India…

Woman in red sari - Red fort (Delhi)
Woman in red sari - Red fort (Delhi)
 As far as I remember I’ve always wanted to visit you…As a little girl I used to dream in front of your Bollywood movies; I couldn’t understand their content but I was fascinated by the whirlwind of the glittering dresses of the beautiful women, their traditional chants and dances. Since those days, I waited a long time before I got the opportunity to finally come and meet you for the first time in November 2005, the first chapter of a long love story between us.

I was told so many clichés about you, very often full of stories of mosquitos, dangerous diseases or dust… and still, there was something captivating in you, something beyond explanation or rational, the need of a reconnection between us, wanted and waited.

When I first visit you in Bombay, the first thing that stroke me was the smell around me, this so particular smell of papier-maché which surrounds everybody in the heavy and wet atmosphere of November and that you bring back in your luggages… Under the white lights of the airport an exchange of “Namasté” at the passport control definitly made me feel “home again”.

You fed me with your fantastic spicy Tandoori dishes and I still have the taste of the first Indian made Daal makhani* cooked overnight that I had the first evening, which is now an incontrovertible dish everytime I visit you.

Hand henna tattoo
Hand henna tattoo

 When I close my eyes, I can still smell the jasmine flowers scent in the hair of the women who were passing by gracefully, with their henna tatoos on the hands and their colourful saris hiding their feet which almost make you think that they’re floating in the air…

 The flowers…plenty full in the markets, on the merchant carriages in front of the temples where you can hear the mantras of the devotees, waiting in their fresh state to become an offering to some generous God.

Those Gods, called and prayed before sessions of Ayurvedic treatments in order to heal me, body, mind and soul. The smell of the sesame oil spilling out on my front head, cleaning my 3rd eye during a shirodhara in Kerala.

 I miss our noisy rides in picturesque rickshaws, horning every second without any reason!… And when our common story brought me at the foot of the Himalayan chain, the crossing of Penjab full of rape fields made me discover a generous population, sharing their prashad, some food and sweets along the road after a Pujah. **

The most famous Gurudwara, The Golden Temple (Amritsar)
The most famous Gurudwara, The Golden Temple (Amritsar)

Thanks to you, I met the most wonderful compassionate look in the eyes of a silent woman who welcomed me at the entrance of a Gurudwara ***, taking my shoes before I cleaned my feet and entered the temple. She showed me the warmest Love and Benevolence someone ever had for me just with a glance that I’ll never forget…

You let your numerous stigmatas in my memory, and for all these reasons, I miss you my mother India…

This Ode is dedicated to all the people who love India around me and particularly to Anand:  Anand my brother, thanks for the bliss you spread around you, you really deserve your name!          

*Daal Makhani: spectacular black lentil dish mix up with many magic ingredients! (see recipe below)

**Pujah: worship

***Gurudwara: Sikh temple

Daal Makhani
Daal Makhani

DAAL MAKHANI RECIPE:

– 1 Cup Urad Daal                                 
– 1 Tbsp Red kidney beans                
– 1 Onion                                                   
–  1 Tomato                                               
– 4 Green chillies
– Coriander (Cilantro) leaves
– 2 Flakes garlic paste
– 1/2 Cup Stirred curd
– 1/2 Cup fresh stirred cream
– 2 Tbsp Butter
– 1/2 Tsp Mustard seeds
– 1 Tsp Cumin seeds
– 1/2 Tsp Tumeric powder
–  1/2 Tsp Garam masala
   – 1 Ginger piece
   – Red chili powder
   – 1/2 Coriander powder
   – Salt to taste                                                                        
                                                               

Method:

• Soak kidney beans in water overnight.

• Add water and little salt and pressure-cook kidney beans and urad dal for 25 minutes.

• Mash and boil again for 20 minutes and add curd and cream to the dal.

• In a separate pan, heat oil, splutter mustard seeds

• Add cumin seeds and garlic paste and fry till they turn light brown.

• Add onions and fry till they turn pinkish brown.

• Add ginger, green chilies and tomatoes and fry till tomatoes are soft.

• Add dry masalas (turmeric powder, chili powder, dhania powder and salt) and fry.

• Add dal and stir on medium flame.

• Sprinkle garam masala powder.

• Garnish with coriander and add butter, YUM !


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